Favorable weather has marked the 2010 Wisconsin potato growing season, though some growers say spuds are growing more slowly than they’d like.
The 2010 growing season has been a good one thus far, Dick Okray, co-owner of Plover, Wis.-based Okray Family Farms Inc., said in early July.
“The crop looks good,” Okray said. “The weather’s been good. We’ve had timely rains.”
Okray Family Farms wrapped up its 2009-10 storage deal at the end of June and expects to begin shipping about Aug. 1, Okray said.
The company planted most of its crop later than it did last year to keep sizes from getting too big, he said.
New crop shipments should begin the week of July 26 for Friesland, Wis.-based Alsum Farms & Produce Inc., a typical start to the deal, said Larry Alsum, the company’s president and general manager.
Good growing weather promised a high-quality crop as of July 2, Alsum said.
“May was a little dry and June was a little wet, but overall, the weather has been really nice,” he said.
There is some disparity, however, between what growers could actually see as of early July and what they couldn’t, Alsum said.
“So far, we’re seeing a lot of good-looking vines,” he said. “The tubers are slightly behind, especially the reds.”
Alsum said 2010-11 acreage should be similar to last season for Alsum Farms & Produce.
Harvest of red potatoes will likely begin in the last week of July, with russets following in the first week of August, said Tom Lundgren, owner and president of Stevens Point, Wis.-based Spud City Sales LLC.
After a fast start, the growing season has been proceeding at a sluggish pace, Lundgren said.
“They had a really early start, but they didn’t do a whole heck of a lot,” he said.
Plants have looked phenomenal, Lundgren said, but the spuds themselves have been behind. Nevertheless, in early July he said there was plenty of time to catch up.
“There’s a lot of time still to make the crop,” he said.
“With the hot, humid weather (Wisconsin has been having recently), they’re bulking up fine.”
Early tests on the crop also have growers feeling optimistic looking ahead to harvest, Lundgren said.
“The field samples look good,” he said. “We’re happy with where we are at this time.”
Lundgren said it was too early to predict what kind of yields growers would have in 2010.
The example of 2009 is still too fresh in growers’ minds.
“We didn’t think we’d have a bumper crop last year, and we did,” he said.
In early July, Mike Carter, chief executive officer of Rosholt, Wis.-based Bushmans’ Inc., said the company still had enough storage supplies to last through July.
The quality of the Bushmans’ late-season storage spuds is high this year because of a new 120,000-square-foot storage facility at its Rice Lake, Wis., shed, Carter said.
“It’s kept the potatoes in very good shape,” he said.
The company was right on schedule for a smooth transition from old crop to new crop in early August, Carter said.
Early summer demand for the storage crop was pretty typical in 2010, Carter said.
“Demand has been pretty consistent for this time of year,” he said. “It’s a bit more of a challenge compared to winter. Summer’s never as strong as you’d like.”
Still, everything’s relative, Carter said. Particularly coming off a marketing year like 2009-10.
“Compared to the numbers from last year, things are going well for us,” he said.